Moto Morini: Legend Reborn

Moto Morini: Legend Reborn

The annals of motorcycling are filled with stories about impassioned inventors and their dramatic travails of trying to turn those passions into pragmatic, successful businesses. Motor-mad Italy has produced an inordinate number of tales pertaining to motorcycle success and heartbreak. One such tale tells of Moto Morini.

The company built its first motorcycle in 1946 in post-war Italy. Based in Bologna, it specialized in small displacement products, slowly growing out its presence on race circuits with 125cc, 175cc, and 250cc machines. These bikes became the genesis of a range of attractive street-going motorcycles.

In 1965, the first Moto Morinis came into the U.S. market with catchy names like Thunder Chief, Jaguar, and Hurricane. After Moto Morini began offering 500cc engines along with its smaller displacement machines, Ducati acquired the company in 1986 and transformed it into an engineering firm. After years of making parts, rumblings of a split and a reshuffling of duties came in 1999. The relaunch rumors were substantiated in 2005, when the legendary brand resurfaced with a soul-stirring V-twin powerplant in 950cc and 1200cc displacements.

However, as if following the plot twists and drama of an Italian opera, came the inevitable heartache. Moto Morini filed for bankruptcy in 2010, only to be reborn in 2015 thanks to Italian courts’ apparent patriotic desire to preserve the country’s motorcycling identity. All was new again in 2018, when the powerful Zhongneng Vehicle Group officially acquired the brand. The Chinese company aligned itself with Italian pedigree, ensuring the Moto Morini name finds its rightful place (again) in the global orbit of motorcycles.

After decades of surviving various corporate configurations, Moto Morini is set to arrive in America. The all-new motorcycles will break cover in April on U.S. soil with two mid-size machines—the 6½ Seiemmezzo and the X-Cape. Both will be equipped with a fuel-injected, liquid-cooled 649cc four-stroke, in-line twin-cylinder engine, which produces a claimed 60 hp.

The X-Cape has a dynamic and functional adventure appearance, with a 19-inch front wheel, beefy 50mm forks, and attractive, flowing design cues on its fairing and windshield. It all adds up to granting the Moto Morini X-Cape appreciable aesthetics and capabilities in the ADV realm. The bike will come standard with Brembo brake components managed by a switchable Bosch ABS system. The steel frame and aluminum swingarm help keep the weight to 469.5 pounds. The bike has a seat height of 32.2 inches (low) or 33.2 inches (high) with a full 7.5 inches of ground clearance. As for colors, leave it to the Italians to offer Red Passion, Smoky Anthracite, and Carrara White.

But perhaps most impressive is the Moto Morini X-Cape’s anticipated MSRP of $8,500. There will be a full line of factory accessories (side cases, crash bars, and more) available to transform the X-Cape into a legitimate travel enduro machine.